September 27, 2021

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Florida breaks record in cases, hospitalizations; over 1M vaccine doses thrown away in 10 states: Latest COVID-19 news – USA TODAY

6 min read

Florida on Sunday broke its record for coronavirus hospitalizations a day after the state recorded the most daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

More than 10,200 people in Florida are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The previous record of 10,170 hospitalizations was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Florida leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19.

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s chief communications officer said the hospital has 70 patients in its COVID-19 unit — an increase of 11 in just two days since Friday and the highest the hospital has seen since the start of the pandemic. The vast majority of the patients hospitalized now, according to Derzypolski, are unvaccinated.

“This is the most we’ve ever had,” said Stephanie Derzypolski, adding that their previous highest number of hospitalizations was 51.

Coronavirus cases are climbing across the country, but there are dramatic differences in the intensity of the outbreaks.

Tennessee reported 356 cases in its last week of June and 12,765 cases in its last week of July, resulting in a 3,486% increase. In California, cases were up 1,078%. And in Louisiana, cases were up 1,043% but on a per-person basis, the state is reporting cases more than 10 times faster than nine different states.

Also in the news:

►On Monday, Germany’s government will recommend offering the coronavirus vaccine for all 12- to 17-year-olds, according to a draft resolution ahead of a planned meeting of state-level health ministers. They also plan to offer boosters to high-risk individuals starting in September.

►The Navajo Nation has reported 25 additional COVID-19 cases and officials say some tribal members are foregoing needed precautions to ward off the spread of the coronavirus.

►New Orleans’ emergency medical responders have been slammed by a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region, so much so that the city doesn’t have the capacity to handle 911 calls, the mayor said Friday in a news conference. 

►The University of South Carolina is requiring students to wear masks indoors this fall. But public colleges and universities in South Carolina can’t require students to get inoculated after lawmakers banned schools from making the vaccine a condition of enrollment.

►More than 816,000 vaccine doses were reported administered Sunday, including 517,000 newly vaccinated. Since July 5, vaccinations have been slowly ramping up across the nation, said Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s COVID-19 data director,   on Twitter.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 35 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 613,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 198.2 million cases and 4.2 million deaths. More than 164.7 million Americans — 49.6% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Americans’ divide over masks and vaccines has perplexed sociologists, legal scholars, public health experts and philosophers, causing them to wonder: At what point should individual rights yield to the public interest? Read more here.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Millions face eviction after federal eviction moratorium ends

The end of the federal moratorium means evictions could begin Monday, leading to a years’ worth of evictions over several weeks just as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading and ushering in the worst housing crisis since the Great Recession.

The moratorium, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September, was the only measure keeping millions of tenants in their homes. Many of them lost jobs during the pandemic and had fallen months behind on their rent.

Landlords successfully challenged the order in court, arguing they also had bills to pay. They pointed out that tenants could access nearly $47 billion in federal money set aside to help pay rents and related expenses.

Advocates for tenants said the distribution of the money had been slow and that more time was needed to distribute it and repay landlords.

Even with the delay, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. as of July 5 said they face eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve missed payments.

Infections surging and ‘things are going to get worse,’ Fauci says

The U.S. likely won’t see the lockdowns that plagued the nation last year despite surging infections, but “things are going to get worse,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday.

Fauci, making the rounds on morning news shows, noted that half of Americans have been vaccinated. That, he said, should be enough people to avoid drastic measures. But not enough to crush the outbreak.

“We are looking, not I believe to lockdowns, but to some pain and suffering in the future,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

Fauci acknowledged that some breakthrough infections are occurring among the vaccinated. No vaccine is 100% effective, he noted. But he stressed the Biden administration’s recurring theme that vaccinated people who do become infected are far less likely to become seriously ill than unvaccinated people who become infected.

“From the standpoint of illness, hospitalization, suffering and death, the unvaccinated are much more vulnerable,” Fauci said. “The unvaccinated, by not being vaccinated, are allowing the propagation and the spread of the outbreak.”

The CDC has brought back guidelines recommending masks for vaccinated individuals in areas of substantial spread of the virus.

“That has much more to do with transmission,” Fauci said of the new guidelines. “You want them to wear a mask, so that if in fact they do get infected, they don’t spread it to vulnerable people, perhaps in their own household, children or people with underlying conditions.”

More than 1M vaccine doses thrown away in 10 states since December

Iowa might have to throw out tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine over the next six weeks. Last week, El Paso threw out nearly 4,000. And in Arkansas, more than 80,000 doses expired this week. 

“Prior to the vaccine, I was heartsick because people died and we couldn’t help them. Now, they don’t get the vaccine and we can’t help them,” Tammy Kellebrew, a pharmacist who travels to rural hospitals across the state, told Houston Public Media. “And so after every death, I go back to the pharmacy and I cry, and then I go back to work.”

A survey reported by the New York Times says that over a million doses have been thrown away in 10 states since vaccines were first administered. Much of the loss comes from lagging demand in recent months.

New poll suggests unvaccinated people are unafraid of the pandemic

According to an Axios/Ipsos tracking poll, only 37% of adults said they were extremely or very concerned about the pandemic, the highest percentage since mid-May. The data showed that the percentage of those concerned is rising in vaccinated adults, but not in unvaccinated adults.

The data showed that 44% of vaccinated adults polled in July were concerned about the vaccine, up eight percentage points since June. The percentage of unvaccinated adults concerned remained at a stable 23% from June to July, according to the data.

Fifty-four percent of vaccinated adults were concerned about the delta variant while 25% of unvaccinated adults reported they were concerned, the data showed. While COVID-19 cases grow across the nation with the spread of the delta variant, the data suggests many unvaccinated people are unafraid.

According to the CDC, the 7-day average of new cases increased about 64% last week with over 66,000 new cases in the U.S. during the time frame. The CDC put a new mast guidance Monday to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Texas governor issues executive order prohibiting mask, vaccine mandate

CDC’s latest mask guidelines arrive as COVID cases rise even in vaccinated people, suggesting that even those who are inoculated wear a mask indoors. Despite the guidance shared Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday that prohibited local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines and masks.

“The new executive order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” Abbott said in a news release. “Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19.” 

A third wave of coronavirus cases, made up mainly of unvaccinated residents, is being driven by the unbridled spread of the delta variant, a mutation of the original coronavirus strain that has federal health experts alarmed about how contagious it is.

The Department of State Health Services reported Friday that 5,846 patients were in Texas hospitals for COVID-19. That’s more than twice as many as two weeks ago, almost four times as many as a month ago, and the most since the end of February.

Contributing: Tori Lynn Schneider, Tallahassee Democrat

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